A Day with My Niece

Happy New Year!

Sort of.

You wouldn't believe how often I think about blogging.. I miss it so much! But as I was telling someone today, I spend so much time in my mind organizing my to-do list and then chasing new ideas that I forget what was ever on the list to begin with. I can't seem to stay in one spot long enough to get anything done because I'm spending too much time being inspired to do things!

Anyway, I was looking back through some pictures I took over December, and I wanted to share with you just a few moments that I had the pleasure of spending with my precious niece, who turned 10 this past year. She was visiting with my sister and brother in-law for Christmas, and I invited her to come over to help me make "reindeer eyes," which are basically round pretzels that have been filled with melted white chocolate bark and then decorated with a red-or-green M&M before the bark hardens.

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After she and I finished the pretzels, she went outside to play with the bits of snow here and there that were left over from a brief snowfall the week before. Since she lives in the south, she rarely sees snow, so she had fun picking up any handful she could find and tossing it into the air… Martha was a bit intrigued with what she was doing, staring at her curiously as she played. Eventually though, Martha was able to go catch the frisbees my niece threw for her that were flipped upside down and filled with snow – a new invention she dubbed "The Snow Launcher."

I had such a fun afternoon with her! It was sweet having a "little one" hanging around the house again, with all of her giggles and love.

So my sweet niece, if you ever stumble across your favorite aunt's blog, thank you for spending the day with me, and I sure do love you!

A Kitchen Visitor

There once was a sweet kitten-black,

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Who was always looking to snack.

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Christmas cookies would bake,

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Powder-sugar and cake,

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His mom should have ne'er turned her back.

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May this season of baking be full of good cheer and no cat fuzz.

Sugar High.

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I'm heading back to Colorado tomorrow, but this time to visit Bre and attend a concert at Red Rocks! But before I go, I wanted to share a recipe with you that will leave you thinking you just downed 3 of those 5-Hour Energy drinks they sell at the grocery stores… The recipe is for Butterfinger Blondies, and you can find it over on my sorely-neglected food blog, Four Seasons Cafe.

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I'll see you soon!

Chops

My Sophie loves cooking shows. Particularly Cake Boss and Paula Deen's Home Cooking. So when I offered to teach her how to make a pot roast yesterday, she was quite excited, and had a gleam in her eye when I pulled out the cutting board and handed her a large knife.

She washed vegetables, learned how to peel garlic cloves and onion skins, and the best part of all: she got to chop carrots and celery. After I made the first chop to demonstrate to her how it's done, she told me that to her, chopping celery had always been one of the coolest kitchen sounds in the world. I laughed, and definitely agreed. There is something very satisfying about a clean cut through a bunch of crisp celery!

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Sophie was so happy with her celery-chopping ability that she asked if the celery base would rot if she kept it as a souvenir. I explained to her that yes, it would eventually rot, so she found a new use for it…

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After all the preparations were made, she got to work…

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Once the roast was in the post to simmer for the remainder of the day, she got to work on that celery base again, and discovered something very exciting: by peeling away the outer stalks, she revealed a tiny "celery tree," as she called it…

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The celery tree is still sitting on the counter this morning, although it's looking a little less excitable by now.

It was fun cooking with such an eager "student." Later that night, when we sat down to eat, she quietly asked me, "Even though you helped me with everything, is this still a dinner that I cooked all by myself?" At that moment, Mike and Sabrina said, "Sophie, your roast is great."

She smiled. 🙂

P.S. Mom, thank you for teaching me how to make pot roast.

Utah, the Final Chapter

On our last day in the Beehive State, we decided to head into Salt Lake City (since that's where our plane would be taking off) and find a good place to eat. The guy at the ski rental shop recommended this place called Tucanos Brazilian Grill, so after following the instructions given to us by the lady-who-lives-in-my-phone, that's exactly where we ended up.

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This is one of the most unique places I've ever eaten! They have these colorful markers at each table, and as long as the green end is up, a server will come to your table over and over again, each time with a different type of meat for you to add to your plate.

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In case you can't tell from the way Mike's tongue is situated, that green side was up for a really long time.

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He brought us barbecued chicken on one trip, and prime rib on the next. He showed up with grilled pineapple and honey-glazed ham, and then it was garlic seared steak. It wasn't until he brought us the chicken hearts that we realized we needed to, at some point, put the red end up.

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I can proudly say we all tried a chicken heart. And in my opinion, it tasted a lot like frog legs, which I've never had, but heard that they taste like chicken.

Btw, they have an excellent salad and soup bar too!

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Soon our server headed over with the dreaded dessert tray.

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Mike absolutely insisted on getting the raspberry cheesecake, so I told him to stop whining and order it already.

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Here's Sabrina with a mouth full of what she chose…

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And no matter where we are, Sophie manages to find plain vanilla ice cream with caramel syrup.

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Me? Well, Mike was supposed to share that raspberry cheesecake with me, but I got nary a bite. Okay, fine, I got several, but what I really wanted was a little something I like to call The Plasma:

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What a fantastic place to eat! We'll definitely be stopping there again, the next time we're in Utah.

I leave you with one more TubCam. This one is Sabrina's, and she took it all by herself on her cell phone. Hold on tight!